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TN: Judge Puts Man Who Hasn’t Been in Trouble for 21 Years on Sex Offender Registry

May 24, 2010

chattanoogan.com(TN): Judge Says “John Doe” Must Register As Sex Offender.

Chancellor Frank Brown has ruled that a Chattanooga businessman must register as a sex offender, though his attorney said he has not been in trouble since moving here in 1989.

The ruling in the 32-page opinion said the man identified thus far only as “John Doe” must register as a sex offender within 15 days unless an appeal was filed.

His attorney, Jerry Summers, did file the appeal to the Tennessee Court of Appeals.

The opinion says the man was convicted of gross sexual imposition in 1983 and served three years in prison in Ohio. At the time he moved to Chattanooga, there was no requirement that he register as a sex offender.
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The opinion says, “Since 1989, Mr. Doe has not been charged with or committed any sexual offense. He has established a business and been a productive member of society.” However, he received a letter from county detective Jimmy Clift at the end of March directing him to sign up on the sexual offender registry.

The opinion says the defendant “looks at the sexual registry as punitive and claims that one cannot be punished now in a new manner for something that was not punishable in that matter when the crime was committed.” (Ex Post Facto clause of the United States Constitution)

It says two states have upheld that argument, but Tennessee has not.

Chancellor Brown said, “This court of equity must follow the law. Despite understanding and acknowledging Mr. Doe’s angst that he faces registration and would be required to perform certain activities now that were not required in 1983, this trial court must follow the law.

“There is a presumption that laws enacted by the General Assembly are constitutional. The appellate authority cited above is that the Act and Amendments to the Act are constitutional. The Act is regulatory and not punitive. The Act is based upon public policy and safety of the public.”

He added, “The Tennessee appellate decisions have upheld the registration requirements. Thus, it certainly appears that Mr. Doe must register as an offender. At least, he must go through the TBI to determine if he must register. If he fails to do so, then his failure to register can be a separate criminal offense.”

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